Crystal Palace secured a big win at the Bet365 stadium to confirm their safety. However, this result also saw Stoke City relegated from the Premier League.
Xherdan Shaqiri gave his side hope after his freekick was deflected into the top corner on the stroke of halftime.
But the Potters’ joy didn’t last as James McArthur scored in the second half after a lovely passing move from Palace.
Patrick Van Aanholt then sealed Stoke’s fate after a poor error from Ryan Shawcross allowed the Dutchman to slot past Jack Butland.
That defeat leaves Stoke three points behind Swansea in 17th and two behind Southampton in 18th. With the two playing on Tuesday night, it is now impossible for Paul Lambert’s side to overtake both of them. This means they will play Championship football next season for the first time since 2008.
Stoke City relegated. Toothless in attack & fighting spirit
Paul Lambert encouraged Stoke’s fans to raise the noise levels tenfold and call for every refereeing decision, and they certainly played their part today.
However, the same can’t be said of their players, who looked extremely lacklustre straight from the kickoff. They barely made it out of their half for the first 45 minutes and allowed Palace several chances on goal. The only chance they did get was through Mama Biram Diouf, who squandered a free header wide of the post.
Their goal was certainly a lucky one. Shaqiri’s freekick, while a very good strike, took a wicked deflection off of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, wrongfooting Wayne Hennessey.
That goal did seem to lift the team though, who came out for the second half with much more energy, launching more attacks on the Palace box.
They were unable to take their chances however and they quickly started to tire. Palace’s pace and slick passing stretched their defence, leading to them conceding an equaliser in the 68th minute.
From there it really was a lost cause. Palace dominated the remaining proceedings, with Shawcross’ terribly misjudged backpass allowing Van Aanholt to finish the Potters off for good. A fitting reflection of both the game and their season as a whole.
Perhaps the most depressing part of Stoke’s second half of the season was the appointment of Paul Lambert as manager. The Scot has won just 1 of his 17 games in charge of the club. This is a horrendous record for any manager, let alone one set to steer a team away from relegation. This will no doubt bring serious question marks over his future, as well as Stoke’s chances of securing an immediate return to the big time.
Palace secure safety in style
By contrast, Crystal Palace built on their 5-0 thrashing of Leicester the previous week with another scintillating performance. They dominated the opening proceedings, working their attacks through their midfield trio of James McArthur, Luka Milivojevic & Yohan Cabaye.
Palace fans will have been disappointed at going in at the break with nothing to show for their efforts. However, it was an admittedly reckless foul from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, giving Shaqiri the perfect chance to level from idea freekick range.
He soon made up for that error, however, delivering the pass that set up his side’s equaliser. Roy Hodgson’s men have played some fantastic passing football since his arrival at the club and today was no exception. Wilfried Zaha set Palace off on the counterattack before squaring to Loftus-Cheek, who delivered a beautiful through ball to McArthur before the Scotsman slotted home.
From then on there only ever looked like being one winner. The Eagles had several chances to finish Stoke off sooner but were unable to force Butland to make a save.
Having secured Premier League football for a record sixth consecutive season, Palace have also become the first team since Liverpool in 1899-1900 to stay up after losing their first seven games. They even have a good chance of securing a top ten place on the final day of the season. The former England boss has definitely earned his place as manager of the season nominee and if he remains at the club for the summer, they could excel even further under a whole season of his guidance.
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